Concepts in Building an NFL Winner as Discovered during the 2021 NFL Season

Concepts in Building an NFL Winner as Discovered during the 2021 NFL Season

Rod Bluhm
10 months ago
3 min read
Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry watch training camp in Berea, OH over the summer.

The NFL playoffs have been filled with excitement yet have left Browns fans conflicted and filled with questions. Several conceptions about what it takes to get to a Super Bowl have now become misconceptions. 

Does it really take time to build a winner?

Teams needing time to rebuild appears to be a fallacy following the Cincinnati Bengals accomplishments thus far in the 2021 NFL season. The Bengals went from last place to first place in what many considered to be one of the tougher divisions in football. 

Cincinnati has drafted well of late. Hitting on their first three picks in the 2020 draft has helped them to build a stronger foundation than most realized. The addition Ja’Marr Chase in the 2021 draft and some free agents has given the Bengals enough talent to get to the Super Bowl this season. 

Should teams build through the trenches first?

While the Los Angeles Rams are strong in the trenches, the Bengals have some deficiencies on their offensive line. It is a line that gave up 55 sacks (third worst in the league) and was near the middle of the pack in pressures allowed and QB hits. 

It is also important to note that Joe Mixon was third in the league in rushing yards behind this line. 

PFF ranked the Bengals offensive line 20th in the league while they show the Rams as the 7th best line. 

Do you need an experienced Head Coach?

Zach Taylor was on the hot seat in 2020 while Sean McVay is trying to become the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl. When you add the two coaches ages together, they only have four years on Pete Carroll. 

While it’s obvious that youth alone doesn’t translate to wins in the NFL, age and extensive experience doesn’t always work either. 

Is a franchise quarterback a must?

There are different ideas of what a franchise quarterback is. Some don’t consider a player of Matthew Stafford’s caliber a franchise QB unless they win a Super Bowl or several playoff games.

Joe Burrow is in his second season. Being a first overall draft pick put Burrow in the discussion prior to the 2021 season. His play validated this.

While Josh Allen has taken time to develop, he is undoubtedly a franchise QB. The same cannot be said for Jimmy Garappolo. He has been a winner for San Francisco, but his statistics do not support the franchise moniker.

The four players have taken much different paths to get to where they are.

Should we go all in during our window?

The Rams are the only team that can possibly be looked at as going all in this season. A large part of that is the capital given up for Stafford and the additions of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. 

The other teams that made the conference championship games built their teams before the season and it was sufficient to get them deep in the playoffs. 

While trying not to disparage the Bengals or Rams, it appeared that there were many teams on equal footing this season. Was this season really filled with average teams or were there several excellent teams? Flash back to the Browns victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati. It was perhaps the Browns best game and was the Bengals worst loss. 

If you side with parity, getting to the tournament as often as possible and rolling the dice beats the tank and rebuild model hands down.

The Browns approach

Some things can be learned from this season by both Browns fans and the team’s front office. 

Building a winner doesn’t have to be a long process, yet patience must be exercised where a new young head coach is concerned. 

The Browns should continue to analyze what an ideal NFL roster should look like for the offense and defense they play and to best compete in the league.

Browns fans should maintain their confidence in Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. Young coaches have a learning curve just like players.

Playoff winning quarterbacks can come from anywhere. The Browns should always be on the lookout to strengthen the position as they would any other. However, we shouldn’t write off Baker Mayfield after an injury-plagued season.

Success for the long-term should be the goal for the franchise. There is little doubt that General Manager Andrew Berry knows this and lives by it.

Football is an ever-changing sport. The Browns will continue to adjust and craft their roster accordingly. 

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